NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The UT Dallas chess team earned a trip to the 2017 Final Four Tournament in New York City, after a strong showing at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship this week.
UT Dallas was the fourth university at the Pan Am to qualify for the Final Four, and chess program director Jim Stallings said the outcome was a much-deserved comeback, after the Comets fell short of the Final Four in last year's tournament.
"Making the cut for the Final Four means much more today than just five years ago," Stallings said. "The number and strength of the teams has increased significantly."
The Pan Am was held from Dec. 27-30 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where UT Dallas was among 60 teams fighting for a victory. The team faced competition from Columbia University, Webster University, the University of Illinois, Carnegie Mellon, UT Rio Grande Valley and Princeton University, among others.
This is the 15th appearance of UT Dallas in the 17 years the tournament has existed. Only University of Maryland Baltimore County has qualified as many times.
Going into the tournament, the Comets were ranked fifth behind Webster University, UT Rio Grande Valley, St. Louis University, and Texas Tech University.
All three of UT Dallas' teams got off to a running start, defeating teams from New York University, the University of South Carolina, and Princeton University in the first round. Their sweep continued into the second round.
Stallings attributes that, in part, to the addition of a strong freshman class recruited to replace outgoing seniors.
"Recruiting for top chess players scholars was always important," he said. "But, today more than ever before, we compete fiercely for the most talented just as in other collegiate sports."
The fourth round saw the Comets face off against UT Rio Grande Valley and the University of Illinois, leading to two wins and one loss.
UT Dallas' A team — consisting of Grandmasters Gil Popilski, Denis Kadric, Dani Raznikov and Angel Arribas — secured a qualification for the University with a 4.5-1.5 final score.
Arribas, a software engineering freshman who had five wins and one loss, said he was honored to be able to compete for the team and contribute to the results.
The Comets will face Webster University, St. Louis University, and Texas Tech University at the 2017 President's Cup, which is considered the "Final Four of College Chess." That event will be held at the historic Marshall Chess Club in New York City in March.
SOURCE University of Texas at Dallas